Why Total System Services, Inc. Dropped and Then Recovered

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our thesis.

What: Shares of Total System Services (NYSE: TSS  ) fell as much as 12% today before trading even late in the session after a brief sell-off following its earnings report.

So what: The payment-processing specialist actually beat adjusted earnings estimates by $0.01, with a per-share profit of $0.48, though revenue growth of 25.4%, to $600.8 million, wasn't enough to please the Street. Investors also seemed to be initially turned off by underwhelming guidance, as TSS now sees 2014 revenue growth of 17% to 19% to about a midpoint of $2.51 billion, and EPS of $1.90 to $1.93. Analysts had expected per-share profits this year of $2.01 on revenue of $2.57 billion.

Now what: What seemed to bring the stock back from its early morning collapse was not only the perception that it had been oversold, but also an endorsement from the analyst firm Robert W. Baird, which called the weakness "a buying opportunity." Baird maintained its outperform rating, based on new contracts, easing headwinds, and strong free cash flow. While the slowdown in profit growth is a bit disconcerting, Baird is correct that this is an otherwise solid business, and affordably priced at a P/E near 15.

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